The Paradox of Stress: The Silent Killer

STRESS. You hear about it on a daily basis. However, did you know that the word stress did not exist in many languages until around the year 1936. It was an endocrinologist, Dr. Hans Selye who coined the phrase to mean, “The non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” When he lectured about stress around the world, certain languages did not have a word for stress at the time and had to come up with one. Dr. Selye reportedly joked that he would be known as the man who introduced the word stress to much of the world.

What is no joke is how the constant stress we live under is different from the way our physiology was developed to handle it. In other words, our outer world is beating our inner world in the adaptation process and if Darwin is right…we are in trouble.

Our stress glands, our adrenal glands, were made to secrete adrenaline to make you run faster or become more alert temporarily to handle a crisis. It looks like we are running on adrenaline due to the constant barrage to our senses. In other words, what I see with my patients is that we are running in crisis mode from the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep, and some of us continue the barrage into our sleep. What does this mean?

This means we are burning ourselves out from the inside. The adrenals protect us not just from the external environment but also from our internal one. The adrenals also secrete hormones to prevent our immune system from attacking ourselves. I believe this is why we are seeing a rise in autoimmune diseases and well as inflammatory ones. This in conjunction with elevated blood pressure, pulse and heart rate may be a common thread in most of what is killing people in “civilized society.”

The problem can be either a constant barrage of stress or a single event that is overwhelming. The key point is that stress is cumulative. Depending on your current levels of both internal and external stress you may become stronger or you may breakdown or become ill.

The Paradox of Stress is that in and of itself some stress is good. For example, stress in the form of exercise is good for you in that your muscles respond to the push ups you are doing and they become stronger. If you begin walking every day your heart and lungs adapt to provide your body with more life-giving oxygen.

What makes stress good or bad?

My professional opinion is that your mental attitude is a big factor. I say this because many factors come into play when you realize that some people who seem like they are doing the right things fare worse than those who seem not to. For example, Warren Buffet reportedly drinks six Cherry Cokes a day and eats McDonald’s regularly and is still going strong at 86.(God Bless) Meanwhile, J.I. Rodale, a pioneering health advocate known as “Mr. Organic,” died on the Dick Cavett Show moments after he claimed he was going to live to be 100. He was 72 years old. I don’t know much about Mr. Rodale but I do know that people say that Mr. Buffet laughs often, and always did, and that he, “Tap dances to work everyday.”

So what is the answer? How do we make sense out of what is apparently senseless? I can tell you this: I have studied health and fitness for over 40 years and I am not arrogant enough to claim that I know for sure. However, I do have my thoughts on the matter and I will share with you that I believe the answer lies in the saying, “Health is what you do FOR your body minus what you do TO your body.” In other words, do more healthy things and reduce negative or “stressful” things and you will probably enjoy life more richly. How do you do this?

You can decrease your internal stress by having an optimistic attitude, laugh often (especially at yourself), eat as natural as you can but don’t worry about it. I feel it is better to happily eat a slice of pizza than to self-righteously, or through self-abnegation, pick at organic kale.

There used to be a bumper sticker that said, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.” The years have shown that this is not true. What appears to be true is that, “Whoever can best handle stress wins.” You can do more things, enjoy greater experiences and appreciate more of the riches of life when you do not let stress get the better of you. You can do all this pain-free and with your faculties operating at their highest level when your stress levels are below your breaking point. You best accomplish this by simultaneously raising your threshold by becoming more adept at adapting and by lower your stress levels.

Become a Master of Serenity by decreasing stress where you can, internally start by not taking things personally and externally by increasing the probability of enjoying a long, healthy life by doing the following recommendations. There seems to be no guarantees in life but there are probabilities. For example, if you look both ways before crossing the street you increase the probability of not getting hit by a car.

Likewise, if you:

  1. Eat well, this includes enjoying what you are eating
  2. Drink filtered water
  3. Be optimistic and surround yourself with positive people
  4. Do work that you love
  5. Laugh easily, especially at yourself
  6. Relax – this includes recreational activities, meditation, volunteering, etc.
  7. See a Health Care Practitioner on a regular basis who works using Timeless Health Principles

You increase the probability of having a long life filled with Health, Wealth and Wisdom.

Many people do not understand how holistic doctors use natural therapies to help your body to adapt to this brave new world we live in. These doctors decrease your internal stress by ensuring your bones are in alignment, your muscles are relaxed and your nutrient levels are optimal.

If I am correct in my assertion that stress may be the underlying factor that causes ill health, this sheds light on the mystery as to why some people who seem like they should be healthy aren’t and those whose habits should make them sick, live to a ripe old age.

If this is the case and the above insights in conjunction with you maintaining a positive attitude are an important factor in relieving stress – you will feel better immediately and continue to feel better for a long time. Especially if you learn to let go, stay relaxed and don’t confuse inconveniences with catastophes.

Look it at this way, if I’m wrong about holistic health care and an optimistic attitude adding to your health and longevity you will be so busy enjoying yourself every day you won’t even notice.

To Your Long and Lasting Health,

Dr. Eugene Charles

Applied Kinesiology Center of New York

See more at An Optimistic Attitude and your Health



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